The College of William and Mary Police Department has reported an increase in stolen bicycles on campus since the start of the school year.
Campus Police Chief Don Challis said that approximately 50 bikes have been reported stolen this year, an increase from previous years. However, about half of the bikes have been recovered by Campus Police.
“Maybe the increase is because students don’t see this as a crime, but stealing a bike is theft and could be a misdemeanor or even a felony,” Challis said. “We want to get across the message before people get arrested.”
Both locked and unlocked bikes have been reported stolen, Challis said.
“About two-thirds of the bikes are unlocked or not locked properly and around a third are locked ones. Non-William and Mary students typically steal the locked ones, and students typically steal the ones that are not locked,” Challis said. “A lot of the thefts are what we call theft of opportunity, or when someone sees an unlocked bike and uses it.”
Cory Scott ’10, president of the William and Mary Cycling Club, said the main issue concerning bike theft is that students are often in a hurry and forget to lock their bikes properly, if at all.
“Locking the front wheel to a tree or bike rack will not do much good because all someone needs to do is pop the front skewer off, and they have a whole bike — minus the front wheel, of course,” Scott said. “Also,
I’ve heard about locks being cut, which are 100 percent of the time cable locks. All you need are wire cutters to dismantle one of the locks to get the bike. The best lock to get is the U-lock, which is complete metal and nearly impossible to cut.”
Challis suggested that students follow a few rules of thumb to reduce the chance of their bikes being stolen.
“Students should register their bikes with the police department and check on their bikes regularly,” Challis said. “Also, students should get high-quality locks, of a Kryptonite style, and park them in well-lit areas.”
Challis said bicycle theft is one of the most severe problems on campus.
“I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing that our biggest theft problem is bike thefts. We appear to have a communal bike program here, in that students are using each other’s bikes and then leaving [them] somewhere else.”
Scott said if the Student Assembly were to get involved, it could reduce the number of bicycle thefts.
“I think having a legitimate bike rental program through the SA would help decrease theft,” he said. “I feel like a large number of the thefts are committed by people who are in a rush to get from one side of campus to the other, so they take a bike that is not locked.
They then just leave the bike in their final destination and don’t return it from where they originally got it.”
Scott said in addition to bike thefts on campus, bike safety is a big problem.
“A lot of people know how to ride bikes, but when they do it to get from point A to point B, they tend to disregard the traffic laws, such as riding against the flow of traffic and not stopping at stop signs.”
Scott said the College’s Cycling Club and Campus Police are planning to team up and hold a cycling safety program, as well as possibly selling lights and locks at a discounted price.